Some will argue that Haleek Maul had a breakout year in 2012, what with the fantastic project he dropped with Supreme Cuts and his solo work. And while they would be right to an extent, I’d argue that he’s about to do a whole lot more this year. The kid, who splits his time between Brooklyn and the Barbados, continues to hone his dark and intelligent approach to lyricism. Additionally, I know for sure he’s prepping some production work, which I’m hoping we hear more of in the coming months. If not, then that’s fine too, of course.
Charlotte, N.C. spitter Lute of the Forever FC crew gained some major momentum last year with his West1996, a project that found him spitting over his favorite beats from Pete Rock, J Dilla, and others. Rock actually heard the tape, which helped propel it onto the rap Internet’s radar in March. When we reached out and apologized for not including West1996 on our year-end lists, he told us that it was OK because he’s got plenty of material coming in 2013.
But here’s the thing: Lute’s more than a kid with a penchant for ’90s boom-bap and a voice to match. I caught him live last year opening for King Mez and he had the entire crowd in a trance. That’s saying a lot considering his microphone was screwed up half the time and no one probably knew who he was. That changed, of course, by the end of his set.